Firearms and Duck Shooting

Farmer John and his wife are keen to partake in this year's duck shooting season

They need to purchase new shotguns and obtain firearms licences.

They know they need a firearm licence to buy shotguns but aren't sure what other licences they need and what the rules around use of their guns are.

Arms Act 1983

The use of firearms in New Zealand is controlled by the Arms Act 1983 and the Arms Regulations 1992.

The New Zealand Police administer the Arms Act and issue licences and permits through police arms officers in each police district. A list of arms officers in each police district can be found on the police website under contacts: (

Local arms officers provide information and assistance to do with owning or using a firearm and make bookings for the firearms licence safety lecture and the test for their area.

How do Farmer John and his wife obtain a firearms licence?

Farmer John and his wife must apply in person to the arms officer at their nearest police station and complete an application form.

The police will check whether Farmer John and his wife are fit and proper people to possess firearms and will ensure they can provide safe storage.

Farmer John and his wife will also have to sit the firearm safety test and attend training on firearm safety.

A firearms licence is valid for 10 years unless revoked or surrendered sooner.

If Farmer John and his wife are issued with firearms licences when and where may they use their shotguns?

Farmer John and his wife may shoot ducks on their own property.

Farmer John and his wife should take steps to ensure that their shooting does not endanger property or frighten, annoy or put neighbours at risk. As a first step, Farmer John and his wife should tell their neighbours when they are planning on duck shooting.

If they choose to shoot on anyone else's property, the permission of that landowner is required and they will need game hunting licences (see below). In addition, they must obtain a permit before hunting on any land managed by DOC, including conservation and national park land.

Do Farmer John and his wife need a game hunting licence to shoot ducks on their own property?

No, provided that their permanent and principal place of residence is on the land they intend to shoot on and they own the land. They may also shoot on their run-off provided it is farmed in conjunction with their home farm.

Generally, you do not need a licence to shoot ducks on your own property. You cannot nominate someone else to hunt on your land without a licence. Section 19(3) of the Wildlife Act 1953 provides that "the occupier of any land, and the wife, husband, civil union partner, or de facto partner and any one son or daughter of the occupier, may, during an open season, hunt or kill on that land without a licence (but subject to all other restrictions imposed by or under this Act) any game that may lawfully be hunted or killed under a licence in the district within the boundaries of which that land is situated."

Note: The Wildlife Act 1953 allows for hunting by three people; the occupier, his/her wife/husband/partner and one son or daughter. Section 19(4)(a) sets out who qualifies as an "occupier" (eg owner of land, manager, sharemilker), and Section 19(4)(b) sets out what needs to be done if there are more than one occupier.

Transporting firearms and ammunition

It is illegal for Farmer John and his wife to carry or use a loaded firearm in a vehicle and to leave a firearm in an unattended vehicle.

Further information

For further information on firearms licences, please see the New Zealand Police website (  For further information on game hunting licences, species you are able to hunt, the length of the season and daily bag limits see the Fish & Game New Zealand website (


The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document.
If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser.


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